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'Norman was the best place to begin': Velvet Taco aims to embrace OU community with opening of new restaurant

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Velvet Taco

Norman's newest taco shop, Velvet Taco, located on Lindsey St. on Sep. 2.

Velvet Taco opened up on Lindsey Street, bringing the Norman community a colorful new location for taco lovers and enthusiasts.

Velvet Taco is a small taco chain restaurant based out of Dallas, with 30 locations around the country aimed at giving customers a taste of international cuisine in a tortilla. They are the “temple of the liberated taco,” according to the restaurant’s website.

Their menu features a wide variety of options for anyone to enjoy their food, including a healthy amount of vegetarian and gluten free options.

Clay Dover, president and CEO of Velvet Taco, said that for the company, Norman was the best place to start in Oklahoma.

“We looked in a few cities, but for us, Norman was the best place to begin, given the influence of students coming into OU and the developments around Norman,” Dover said. “We also really liked the location on Lindsey. We thought it would be really prominent.”

Dover also said that the restaurant aims to provide an international flavor for its customers.

“We’re a chef-driven, food-inspired concept that has flavors from all over the globe. A variety of different flavors go into all of our tacos,” Dover said. “It’s very culinary driven, it's very adventurous. We’re known for our innovation; you will have tacos here that you can’t get anywhere else.”

Eric Thompson, general manager of the Velvet Taco location in Norman, said that including their normal menu, they also have a weekly rotating taco, called the “WTF.”

“We’ve had everything from squid and octopus to ahi tuna, to alligator,” Thompson said. “We try to do different protein options that people are interested in.”

Thompson also mentioned that the Norman location will have their special “backdoor chicken,” which is a to-go build-your-own taco kit that costs $20 on Tuesday through Sunday and $10 on Monday. The kit contains a fully cooked rotisserie chicken, elote corn, tortillas, corn pico and sauce.

Thompson also said that Velvet Taco takes pride in the atmosphere they create in their restaurants.

“We say that our vibe is very unique, from the colors of the restaurants to the music we play, to our team members on staff,” Thompson said. “We encourage diversity; at a lot of restaurants, you can’t have crazy hair or fancy nails, and those are the things we love to see. We love to see people express themselves. The diversity we have, the music, colors and international flavor is what we want to be known for.” 

Sydney Johnson, a senior biology major and customer at Velvet Taco, said she enjoys the restaurant’s overall experience.

“I really like the food, it tastes so much healthier than some of the other options in the area,” Johnson said. “I also like the colors and the artwork in the store. This would be a great place to come with your friends.”

Thompson also said each restaurant aims to reflect the community it is located in.

“With the murals we have, we try to reflect things in the community, so we have a Sooner Schooner with a big taco on it, we have ‘Boomer Sooner’ inside the restaurant, and this location also boasts two large patios, which creates the largest patio of any Velvet Taco location,” Thompson said.

One constant of each restaurant is a Marie Antoinette mural on the wall, depicting her eating red velvet cake. The restaurant uses Antoinette to represent a rebellious nature, and her famous quote, “Let them eat cake,” which is where the restaurant's name originates from, according to Thompson. 

Thompson said that Velvet Taco doesn’t just want to be a chain restaurant.

“We want to be a part of the community,” Thompson said. “The goal is to become one with the community and do whatever we can to participate in the events our community participates in. I tell all of my staff that I want them to be better people after working for us than they were before, and if we can do that and be a part of the community, then I think we have done our job.”

Velvet Taco is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday through Wednesday, from 11 a.m. to midnight on Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. It is located at 1440 W Lindsey St.

Editor's Note: This article was updated at 2:50 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 16 to reflect that Velvet Taco is a corporate-owned restaurant, not a franchise. Additionally, the restaurant has tortillas, not taco shells.

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